Purpose: To investigate the expression of growth factor mRNA and the level of growth factor protein in preserved human amniotic membrane (AM).
Methods: RT-PCR was used to examine the expression of mRNA for eight growth factors (EGF, TGF-alpha, KGF, HGF, bFGF, TGF-beta1, -beta2, -beta3) and two growth factor receptors (KGFR and HGFR) in human AM preserved at -80 degrees C for one month. In addition, ELISAs were used to measure the protein concentrations of seven growth factors (EGF, TGF-alpha, KGF, HGF, bFGF, TGF-beta1, -beta2) in preserved human corneas and in AM both with and without amniotic epithelium.
Results: RT-PCR revealed that human AM expresses mRNA for EGF, TGF-alpha, KGF, HGF, bFGF, TGF-beta1, -beta2, -beta3, KGFR and HGFR, while ELISAs showed that it contains EGF, TGF-alpha, KGF, HGF, bFGF, TGF-beta1, -beta2. AM without amniotic epithelium also contains all seven growth factors examined, however, in this tissue the protein levels of EGF, KGF, HGF and bFGF were found to be significantly lower than in native AM.
Conclusions: Preserved human AM expresses mRNAs for a number of growth factors and contains several growth factor proteins that might benefit epithelialization after AM transplantation. High levels of EGF, KGF, HGF and bFGF in AM with amniotic epithelium as compared to AM without amniotic epithelium suggest an epithelial origin for these growth factors. We feel that EGF, KGF and HGF in particular might play important roles in ocular surface wound healing after AM transplantation.